San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 30th, 2010
Wittliff Collections to host Hightower

042810hightowerJim Hightower will speak at the Witliff Collections Saturday at a reception celebrating his archives donation.


The Wittliff Collections will host “The Living Spirit of Texas Populism:  In Our Politics, In Our Culture” Saturday to honor Jim Hightower’s donation of his archives. Hightower is the featured speaker for the day.

The event will take place from 1-7 p.m. at Alkek Library on the Texas State campus.

In December 2008, Jim Hightower named the Wittliff Collections at Texas State as the official repository for his archival legacy, and now his papers are the focus of an exhibition from the Southwestern Writers Collection: “Swim Against the Current: Highlights from the Jim Hightower Archive.” The show opened March 22 and runs through July 31 at Alkek Library.

“When we took delivery of Hightower’s archive in early 2009, our first priority was to preserve and inventory the materials,” said Steve Davis, assistant curator at the Wittliff Collections. “Now that that’s done, we’re looking forward to a great turnout for our exhibition and the big May 1 event.”

At the event, the first of two panel discussions, “Populism in Texas Politics,” will feature former Senator Fred Harris, Progressive Populist Editor Jim Cullen, former AFL-CIO executive Linda Chavez-Thompson. Texas Observer Editor Bob Moser, editor of the Texas Observer, will serve as moderator.

Discussing “Populism in Texas Culture”  in the second panel discussion will be Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar, editorial cartoonist Ben Sargent, photographer Alan Pogue, and Tom Pittman, the lead man for the Austin Lounge Lizards who hosts KUT’s “Folkways.” The moderator will be Dr. Bill Stouffer, Texas State professor of political science.

A public reception and a talk by Jim Hightower will follow. Performances by Jimmy LaFave, Carolyn Wonderland with Shelley King, and the Austin Lounge Lizards add live music to the mix. Local food and drink throughout the day will be sponsored, in part, by St. Arnold’s Brewery and the Cool Mint Café.

The event is free, but space is limited. To secure admission, attendees are asked to RSVP to (512) 245-2313.

What is populism? Said Hightower, “Populism is a historically grounded doctrine and movement that supports ordinary folks in their ongoing democratic fight against the moneyed elites.”

Hightower has dedicated himself to battling the “powers that be” on behalf of, as he puts it, the “powers that ought to be,” which, he said, are working families, farmers, consumers, environmentalists, small business owners, and “just plain folks.”

In addition to being a celebrated author and radio personality, Hightower spent eight years as Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, implementing many of his populist ideas, including consumer protection, worker safety, organic production and direct marketing by small farmers.

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